Description of the programme:
In 2003, Saver Plus was designed and developed by ANZ bank and the Brotherhood of St Laurence a community-based organisation that helps prevent and alleviate poverty across Australia. Since 2009 the Australian Government has supported Saver Plus as a funding partner along with ANZ, providing a ‘best practice example’ of community-business-government partnerships. Over 36,000 people had completed the Saver Plus programme at the time of the report’s publication.
Saver Plus participants sign up for a ten month programme, with the aim of saving regularly towards purchasing an education product for either themselves or their children. Savings are matched at a rate of 1:1, up to a maximum of AUS$500 per participant. Participants also complete ANZ’s ‘Money Minded’ programme, as well as receiving support from community organisations. Participants must be parents who are aged 18 or above and have a child in education, have regular income from paid employment and be able to demonstrate a capacity to save.
The study posits that ‘through financial education, support and incentive, Saver Plus develops participants’ financial self-efficacy, financial capabilities and saving behaviour. These all in turn contribute to financial wellbeing’.
The evaluation used a range of data collection methods, including:
- Enrolment data: Management information was available for 12,085 Saver Plus participants who had taken part in the programme between 2009 and 2016, and who had agreed to participate in Saver Plus research. Th data included: gender, age, location, whether a participant was saving for themselves or their child(ren), income, government income support, number of children, primary language, cultural heritage and whether a participant was enrolled in an apprenticeship.
- Online Survey: Of 9,936 Saver Plus participants who were invited to complete the online survey, 1,373 valid responses were submitted. An established financial wellbeing scoring system was used to measure participants’ overall financial wellbeing pre- and post-intervention.
- In-depth interviews: Interviews were conducted with 23 Saver Plus participants, 21 of whom were females; 21 were separated or divorced; 21 had dependent children and only one was unemployed. The majority of the interviewees were renters (20 out of 23), with eight interviewees living in metropolitan areas and the remainder in regional/rural areas.
- Save Plus Banking data: Participants’ ANZ banking data was combined with their enrolment data to create a dataset including 11,876 participants, which was used to analyse the factors that influenced the completion or non-completion of the programme.
- Most participants (87%) were still saving the same amount (or more) three to seven years after completing the programme.
- Almost three-quarters (72%) of participants reported that the total value of their savings had increased since completing Saver Plus.
- Almost four-in-five participants (78%) were able to ‘make ends meet’ better after the intervention.
- A large majority of participants (86%) said that they shopped around more since the intervention, while 82% were more aware of where to look for help with financial decision-making.
- Average financial wellbeing was calculated on a scale of 0-100. Before the intervention the average overall financial wellbeing score was 36; afterwards it was 64. The Australian national average was 59.
- Regarding the three components of financial wellbeing; meeting financial commitments registered a pre-intervention average score of 50 (out of 100) compared to a post-intervention score of 75.
- The average score for feeling financially comfortable after the intervention was 58, compared to just 36 pre-intervention. Finally, resilience for the future returned an average score of 27 pre-Saver Plus compared 36 post-intervention.
- Men and women both experienced increases in their financial wellbeing, though men’s’ scores were higher both before and after the intervention (men - 44 versus 68; and women - 36 versus 63).
- Respondents who were in a couple with no children had the highest levels of financial wellbeing pre- and post-intervention (49 versus 76).
- Survey respondents’ levels of self-efficacy improved significantly following the intervention with an average score of 13 pre-Saver Plus compared to an average score of 17 post-intervention.
- After completing Saver Plus, 89% of respondents still used a savings account; 70% reviewed their insurance policies, and 59% changed bank accounts to better suit their needs.
- Almost nine-in-ten respondents (88%) said that achieving their Saver Plus goal helped them feel better about themselves, while 69% felt less stressed about the future.
- Respondents who completed the Saver Plus programme improved their financial wellbeing score by an average of 27 points, whereas those who did not complete improved by 21 points.
- Survey respondents reported significant increases in life (+2 points), employment (+2) and financial satisfaction (+1) on an eleven-point scale, while almost half (46%) stated that their participation in Saver Plus had helped them deal with a stressful life event since completion of the programme.
Points to consider:
Methodological strengths and limitations:
- This evaluation uses a range of methods, reporting whether findings are statistically significant. We can therefore have a fair degree of confidence in these findings.
- The lack of survey data from a control group means it was not possible for the evaluation to evidence causality.
- While these findings are from an Australian programme, many of the learning outcomes may be transferrable to a UK context. However, it is important to note that nine-in-ten of the respondents were female, so this may influence the relevance of the results in certain situations.
- The evaluation is of significant interest to people interested in enabling financial education and savings incentives, and particularly to those aiming interventions at single parents and renters.